Deadly Crash Involving 90 Vehicles on Illinois Highway During Dust Storm
A major highway in central Illinois was the site of a deadly crash involving up to 90 vehicles during a dust storm on May 1, 2023. At least six people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the multiple car crashes and pile-ups along Interstate 55 in south-central Illinois, according to state police. The cause of the crashes was excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway, leading to zero visibility. Forty to 60 passenger vehicles and at least 30 commercial vehicles were involved in the crash, including two semi-trucks that caught fire.
Illinois State Police Maj. Ryan Starrick said that dust storms like this one have happened before on Illinois roads “where unfortunately you have excessively high winds.” This blows the topsoil from fields across the roads. It is not rare to experience dust storms in Illinois. The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, issued a “blowing dust warning” at 1:25 p.m. CT, which is very rare in Illinois.
Hospitals received over 30 individuals, whose ages ranged from 2 to 80 years old. Injuries ranged from minor to life-threatening. The victims were transported to hospitals in Springfield and Litchfield. The highway was shut down in both directions for miles between Divernon and Farmersville, outside of Springfield, as police urged travelers to avoid the area. It is anticipated that the road will stay shut until Tuesday afternoon.
Kevin Schott, director of emergency services in Montgomery County, said it was a “very difficult scene” and one that’s “very hard to train for.” Through the thick haze, first responders were met with multiple vehicles on fire and dozens of vehicles scattered across both sides of the road, making it hard to get to “victims in a rapid manner.”
Illinois State Police said the interstate is shut down from mile post 63 to 80 in both directions. The highway is expected to remain closed until Tuesday afternoon as crews work to remove the dozens of vehicles from the roadway. The traffic was diverted. As per his statement, the authorities are carrying out investigations and removing vehicles, which implies that the interstate situated in southern Sangamon and northern Montgomery counties will continue to be closed.
Both the southbound and northbound lanes experienced crashes. The cause of the crash was excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway leading to zero visibility. The victims ranged in age from 2 to 80 years old.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, issued a “blowing dust warning” at 1:25 p.m. CT, which is very rare in Illinois. The gusts of wind in the area have been ranging from 35 to 45 mph. Severely limited visibilities were expected. Travel was dangerous and possibly life-threatening.
As authorities gather more information, U.S. Representative Nikki Budzinski from Springfield and her team are closely monitoring the tragic accident that occurred on I-55. As the situation continues to unfold, please ensure your safety. According to the Illinois State Police, the stretch of the interstate between mile markers 52 and 80 has been closed in both directions.
The crash on Interstate 55 in Montgomery County, Illinois, took place at about 11 a.m. local time. Accidents were reported on I-55 in both the north and southbound lanes spanning a distance of 2 miles. At least six people were killed, and the highway will remain closed until late morning or early afternoon Tuesday, officials said.
The crash took place in a short stretch of highway where 45 mph winds picked up the dust and suddenly made it nearly impossible to see. People were trying to slow down, but others didn't, which led to many cars and semi-trucks with so much momentum behind them. The dust storm caused low visibility, making it difficult for drivers to see the road ahead.
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